In its interpretation of Latin and Greek culture, Christianity contends that Satan is behind all classical deities, demigods, and spiritual creatures, including the gods of the household, the lares and penates. But Armando Maggi, an expert in Renaissance demonology, argues throughout "In the Company of Demons" that the great thinkers of the Italian Renaissance had a more nuanced and perhaps less sinister interpretation of these creatures or spiritual bodies.Through close readings of Giovan Francesco Pico della Mirandola, Strozzi Cigogna, Pompeo della Barba, Ludovico Sinistrari, and others, Maggi reveals that these demons speak through their sudden and striking appearances - their very bodies seen as metaphors to be interpreted. But the core trait of these spirits is compassion, and sometimes their odd, eerie arrivals are seen as harbingers or warnings to protect us. It comes as no surprise then that when spiritual beings distort the natural world to communicate, it is vital that we begin to listen.
Armando Maggi is professor of Romance languages and literatures and a member of the Committee on the History of Culture at the University of Chicago. He is the author of several books, including Satan's Rhetoric.